EFL ‘deeply frustrated’ by decision to delay return of crowds

PA

EFL chairman Rick Parry says his organisation is “deeply frustrated” by the decision to delay the return of spectators to sports venues, and has called for clarity on the matter from the Government.

The 72 clubs in the EFL had been hoping to welcome fans back on a socially-distanced basis from the start of next month, but those plans have been scrapped after the Government imposed new restrictions following a rise in coronavirus infections nationwide.

The league has warned its clubs will collectively lose £200million in matchday revenue and other associated benefits if the whole 2020-21 season has to be played behind closed doors.

Talks remain ongoing between the EFL and the Premier League over financial support, and Parry said on Wednesday he remained “optimistic” of finding a solution.

But the news was clearly a huge setback for the competition.

“Over many months we have helped the Government devise, refine and pilot stringent stadium protocols designed to keep supporters safe,” Parry said.

“Staging professional football matches is one of the most heavily regulated areas of crowd management and any supporters attending EFL fixtures, in vastly reduced numbers, would have been required to adhere to social distancing and the rule of six.

“Therefore we are deeply frustrated that we will not be able to continue this work and, in doing so, gather the evidence to show that crowds can return safely to football and become an important financial lifeline for our clubs.

“Therefore, as a matter of urgency, we now need to understand what the Government’s roadmap is for getting supporters back into stadiums as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.”

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